The job of an ERP consultant is a tough one, sometimes filled with late night international calls and client deadlines. In this blog let’s recognize not all consulting firms work the same way. The intent of this blog is to give you a glimpse into how our consultants at Third Stage Consulting spend their time. Hopefully, you’ll find it a useful way to envision how we add value to a broad base of clients and businesses around the world.
Consultants work long hours and their workday often morphs to meet client needs. Their duties are somewhat consistent, but every client will have at least some unique needs. Third Stage consultants break their time into three major areas:
Client Engagement and Deliverables
Consultants are typically working with a small group of clients simultaneously unless the project is large enough to warrant the need for fulltime resources, and some are. This takes up most of the consultant’s day. The activities can be quite different ranging from meeting with clients to analyzing workflows to creating strategy documents.
I won’t spend a lot of time describing the various duties, but I will say that our consultants are trained across industries and no job is too big or too small. While we’re helping one client with software selection which will the lead to an ERP implementation (a larger project) at the same time we could be helping another client choose and integrate a new CRM (a smaller project). Our consultants are both strategic and tactical and our clients typically view us as long-term partners. ERP clients are trending away from large multiyear initiatives while choosing specific technical enhancements/projects that can add value in shorter spans of time.
Validating Assumptions and Recommendations
Even though one consultant may be the primary contact for a client, they don’t work in a vacuum. Behind the scenes, a consultant will be accessing the expertise of other internal consultants to validate or enhance deliverables that will eventually be presented to the client (think pro-con discussions about recommendations).
A Third Stage consultant will also access industry leaders within the company. Eric Kimberling is a good example of an industry leader at Third Stage who will make suggestions or validate assumptions with company consultants for almost every client. This should help you understand why consultants get paid well. You are getting deep expertise and guidance that wasn’t formulated by just one person. This differs from consultancy to consultancy. A very small consultancy (or freelance consultant) probably doesn’t have the resources to work this way and the Deloitte types use a very different model. As a truly independent operation, we are looking for the best technology and processes for our clients without a predetermined outcome, which is more work. Consultants at other companies that have alliances with software companies gravitate to certain software offerings repeatedly and are incentivized to do so.
Validation at our company extends beyond just working with other internal coworkers. A good example of this is a proprietary software we use for software selection and evaluation. In addition to “human minds” putting forth a well thought out list of software options based on client needs, we enhance the process by introducing technology to validate and challenge our own assumptions.
The technology landscape is constantly changing and the onus for keeping up falls on the individual consultant, thus part of each day is spent learning or researching. While technical learning may dominate (think researching emerging tech) our consultants have broad-based knowledge. For example, they will seek to understand economic trends that could impact industries or changing regulations. While you may have hired an independent ERP consultant for their technical expertise, they have insights and education that goes far deeper. Chances are they have worked with companies that have tackled some of the same challenges your company is feeling. Your consultant will pull from their real-life body of knowledge that was gained through direct experience. This will ultimately help an ERP initiative in a variety of positive ways.
A couple of times a month our company will provide training on subjects relevant to our consultants, but as mentioned above each consultant owns the responsibility for continuous learning. Even consultants with deep industry experience are always learning from clients and other sources, which only adds to their already developed insights. Most clients only make major ERP changes every10 years or so, while our consultants will typically work on multiple ERP initiatives per year.
This “culture of learning” also means that thought knowledge is shared on our website where consultants and other staff are encouraged to write blogs, whitepapers and participate in video content. Contrast this to some consultancies that hire outside writers as their primary source of content. Our consultants are evaluated partly on their ability to teach and expand knowledge. As a client would you want anything less?
While our consultants have technical and industry experience they also have the best interests of your company in mind. They help solve problems that your company either can’t get to or with a higher level of specific expertise. Contact us for a complimentary conversation with one of our consultants – it will be the best part of their day.